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Can hassle-free co-working spaces replace traditional offices?

Manoj Sharma     February 14, 2018

The concept of working independently has changed across metro cities in the past five years. Not only millennial entrepreneurs, freelancers, startups are choosing to share office space, but corporate organisations, willing to cut rising expenses, are also embracing the modern way working, which has disrupted the traditional norms of doing business. The reasons for the changing scenario are increasing real estate costs, overhead expenses, need for a vibrant environment, among others. Traditional office spaces are either highly expensive or devoid of diverse working environment, hence co-working spaces.

RISING CO-WORKING SPACE DEMAND

The demand for co-working office spaces is rising with an increased investor activity and sustained leasing by technology companies, reported Colliers, a global commercial real estate services company. In its report on India Office Property Market Review in 2017, the company said overall, India's co-working space market is expanding, with 41.6 million sq ft of gross office leasing transactions reported in 2016 alone.

The technology sector continues to drive the market with a 58 per cent share of total leasing volume, and Bengaluru has topped the list by retaining a 31 per cent share followed by Delhi-NCR, which represents 18 per cent of the total occupier demand. Therefore, many co-working space companies have mushroomed across the Delhi-NCR, Mumbai and India's Silicon Valley, Bengaluru.

91springboard, one of the India's largest co-working communities that recently launched its 15th co-working space hub in Mumbai's Bandra Kurla Complex (fourth alone in Mumbai), has introduced open spaces focused on socialisation as well as independent offices for professionals from diverse fields.

"The 400-seater co-working office space is a place for everyone - interiors with a minimalist but futuristic theme, space-optimising office furnishings, hi-speed internet, conference and meeting rooms, cafes, locker facilities, game zones, a separate networking space, a lounge with sofas and all other facilities that the Silicon Valley startups enjoy," says 91springboard CEO Anand Vemuri.

Covering an area of 18,000 square feet, 91springboard BKC hub's close proximity - just 6km - from Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport makes it a hot destination for professionals. "We have established 15 hubs in Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Goa, and many more are in the pipeline," he added.

OneCoWork, which has three co-working office spaces across Delhi, recently marked its foray into Bengaluru by opening a new co-working hub that can house up to 257 professionals. Located in Koramangala, the centre provides ultramodern features like sleeping pods, gaming lounges, and block labs (aimed at blockchain-based collaborative research and development expeditions) among others. "Our Bengaluru facility features some of the latest hi-tech additions to co-working spaces," Himanshu Bindal, Founder of OneCoWork.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL

So why are co-working spaces ideal not only for solo entrepreneurs but also large corporations? "A new self-owned and operated office requires businesses to take care of everything from identifying the preferred site, conducting lease and purchase negotiations, and procuring equipment to maintaining infrastructure, hiring housekeeping staff, and setting up tech facilities," says Pranay Gupta, Co-founder, 91springboard, adding that these are major financial commitments for not only emerging startups but also for established companies. He says co-working space saves time and resources in a cost-effective way.

Sudeep Singh, Chief Evangelist at GoWork, says initially a co-working space was believed to be an option for bootstrapped entrepreneurs running on a tight budget but now established business are walking the co-working road, thanks to the variety of amenities and unique working environment being provided at co-working space. "Easy-to-customize spaces are the growing demand and allow businesses to develop their workspace according to the business needs," says Sudeep. GoWork's facility in Gurgaon, which the company claims to be the largest in the world, is spread in an area of 4.5 lakh sq feet and can house up to 8,000 people.

PERFECT SPOT FOR NETWORKING

A co-working space comprises like-minded individuals from different domains under one roof, which can also be a perfect spot for entrepreneurs looking up to build up network. How can a co-working space help in networking? "The biggest benefit of a co-working space is that it facilitates seamless business networking, which is crucial for growth. At a co-sharing place, professionals from different business domains work together that can organically lead to collaboration opportunities, which mutually benefit everyone," says 91springboard's Pranay.

GoWork's Chief Evangelist Sudeep Singh says startups, SMEs and corporate are the key drivers of co-working, which mutually benefit each other. "Corporate houses look for entrepreneurs for quick solutions and technical expertise, which lead to a fair exchange of business and commerce among both the parties."

Anuj Sharma, founder of Localguy, a Himachal-based online experience-sharing startup that caters to the unorganised sector and enables micro-entrepreneurs in Tier-II and Tier-III cities to connect directly with travellers, says co-working spaces are the best for bootstrapped companies focusing on cost management, product design, and application. "I worked on my prototype from the Nasscom facility in Noida, a co-working space. I was selected under Nasscom's 10,000 Startups Programme, and I also got assistance from experts that helped me build a strong network. Once you're in such a zone, you meet people from different walks of life. You can cash in on their experience to address your challenges," says the 28-year-old entrepreneur.

Anuj says perks like cool offices to sync with creative self, exposure to industry experts, and unique startup ecosystem make co-working spaces hit among new-age entrepreneurs.


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